Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “Godzilla.”
The Movie: “Godzilla” (1998)
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo
Director: Roland Emmerich
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) A giant, reptilian monster surfaces, leaving destruction in its wake as it strides into New York City. To stop it, an earthworm scientist, his reporter ex-girlfriend and other unlikely heroes team up to save the city.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 16 percent
Brown: The last two weeks on the JOE-DOWN have been the Sundays of too many sequels.
First, there was the idea of Jason Voorhees… IN SPACE!… with “Jason X.”
And this week, we will visit a film franchise with 32 (!!) movies, with a 33rd coming next month.
Of course, I am speaking of the King of Monsters himself.
And what better way to celebrate the King himself than with the joker of a movie that felt like a 120-minute (REDACTED) you to Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert?
I would have been 12 when this movie came out and I remember all the hype surrounding it, including a commercial where the Taco Bell chihuahua was trying to catch a monster whose scales were bigger than him? The ‘90s were a wild time.
And then, there was a certain musical collaboration that I know Froemming despises. We’ll get to that in due time.
So Froemming, while I try to find a lizard pregnancy test, give us your initial thoughts before we endure this heavy-handed metaphor of the dangers of nuclear weapons.
Froemming: I avoided this movie at all costs in 1998. Not only did it unleash perhaps the worst classic rock/hip-hop mashup known to man, even by the previews this looked terrible. I mean, “Jurassic Park” had come out what, five years before, and in that time CGI and special effects had come a long way.
Not for “Godzilla” though.
I mean, they should have just gone with the guy in the rubber suit approach because at least that had some charm, something this movie lacks in spades.
Also, this is not a Godzilla movie. This is “Kent Brockman: The Movie.”
Yes, three cast members of “The Simpsons” are in this: Harry Shearer (who should have known better), Hank Azaria (giving us his best Carl voice throughout) and a cameo by Nancy Cartwright. Not even peak-era “Simpsons” cast could save this movie.
This movie also has Matthew Broderick, who rose to fame playing the cocky Ferris Bueller and then decided to make a career out of playing hapless schmucks.
I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but *SPOILER* I hated this movie. I hated this movie more than I hated “Soul Man” which says a lot of how bad and boring this movie is.
Wow, I came in hot here. Brown, while I ponder the physics of driving a taxi out of a dinosaur’s mouth, why don’t you start this off.
Brown: So right away, this movie’s credits are nothing but sepia tone images of nuclear bombs going off with iguanas who have clearly seen some (REDACTED) watching from the distance. It honest to God looks how all industrial rock music videos looked in the ‘90s. Put some Nine Inch Nails or (even better) Ministry in the background and that would have gotten airtime on “Headbangers Ball.”
And our first real scene shows a Japanese fishing boat out at sea that is being banged around in a storm. But now, big waves isn’t all they’re worried about as the ship is attacked by an unknown creature. We see some claws run through the boat and that’s about it.
All that appears to remain is, I think, the captain of the ship who utters the name “Gojira” when he sees a flame?
There wasn’t a (REDACTED) flame throughout that entire sequence. All of a sudden, this traumatized man gets all PTSD over a lighter? They show this scene several times and it never makes any sense.
Maybe, he was a big fan of the band Gojira?
But who cares about one man’s trauma! Because now we’re going from potential sea monster to monster… worms.
Froemming: Not just any worms, but radioactive worms in Chernobyl! Which, I mean, is very plausible I guess.
We meet Dr. Niko “Nick” Tatopoulos, played by Matthew Broderick who as I will point out right here killed two people in real life while driving recklessly in Ireland. So who is the real monster here, the fictional Godzilla or the man who took two lives while joyriding in Europe with Jennifer Grey?
Dr. Nick’s (that is what I will call him throughout since this movie decided to use that “Simpsons” starpower) research is cut short when the government shows up to reassign him to look at the radioactive monster our world has created due to dumping poison into the ocean.
Brown: Question: Did it bug you as much as it did me that for a man who is doing his worm work exclusively in Chernobyl is seemingly NOT wearing any nuclear protective equipment? Because all Dr. Nick is wearing is a leather jacket and a Walkman that makes him a nerd Starlord.
Froemming: Yes. I know not all of Chernobyl is toxic, but if you watch that VICE clip above, where Dr. Nick would be looking would be deadly to him without protection. Almost as deadly as the actors who played siblings in “Ferris Bueller” joyriding in Ireland.
Brown: So Dr. Nick Tatopoulos, which is the worst name for a protagonist I think I’ve ever heard this side of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” making fun of “Space Mutiny,” arrives in Panama to see what all the fuss is about. He’s shown to a hole in the ground that turns out to be a GIANT footprint. Working their way to the shore, we’re shown the Japanese boat ripped to shreds by the monster’s claw.
All the while, there’s no urgency with any of this from the military. I swear the people there were just chilling on the sand scouting the next location for Fyre Festival. And, all Dr. Nick can do is complain about not studying his worms for this…
Matthew Broderick is the (REDACTED) choice for a movie like this.
Froemming: Because we need a forced (probably the most painfully forced we have seen in a JOE-DOWN) love interest, we are whisked away to Manhattan, where we meet Audrey Timmonds. She works in a newsroom as a researcher for Kent Brockman (I refuse to call him anything but Springfield’s hardest hitting journalist), where we find she has not moved up in the company for years due to sexism and gross, almost Bill O’Reilly type of advances by her boss. Just wait Audrey, it will only take another 20 years before your time to fight back will come.
Oh, she also dated Dr. Nick in college and ghosted him after he proposed. It was at this moment in the movie I almost fell asleep because of how boring this (REDACTED) thing is. Oh, her cameraman buddy, Victor, is played by Azaria. I could not get over Carl’s voice coming out of his mouth. It was distracting.
Brown: Imagine how much better this movie would have been if Hank Azaria was doing the Moe voice the entire time.
Froemming: I wouldn’t have minded him doing Kirk Van Houten either.
Brown: So we see Audrey trying to find ends in TV journalism, only to be held back by Kent Brockman. I get it from his perspective, though. He needs someone to do the leg work on “Eye on Springfield.”
So this may be my biggest problem in a movie chalk FULL of problems: Shoehorning a love story into a story about a monster destroying New York (REDACTED) City!
Has anyone ever watched a Godzilla movie because of the budding love of the terrified citizens? We’re here to see (REDACTED) get blown up and destroyed by giant kaiju atrocities created by man’s folly. Let my lizard brain enjoy the giant lizard!
Froemming: This is the second movie for the JOE-DOWN in which a giant lizard destroys New York City. At least “Cloverfield” didn’t put me to sleep.
Brown: I have to note that this is the second JOE-DOWN movie we’ve done in the, what, three years we’ve been doing this, that I didn’t watch in one sitting. The other: “Green Lantern.” And I was drunk and exhausted from a wedding when I tried watching that.
Real elite company you’re in there, “Godzilla.”
Froemming: This already holds (I think) the record of most “Simpsons” clips used, and we are just at the start of the movie!
So, to speed things along (because I don’t remember much of the first half since I watched it after work and it did me no favors by being as interesting as the classic indie film “Man Getting Hit By Football”) Godzilla is heading to the East Coast, where he ruins an old man’s fishing day by yanking the rod out of his hands. Even this moment of levity fell flat for me. But hey, at least we are now in the Big Apple!
Brown: But why? Why are we in the Big Apple?
This monster’s origin was French Polynesia… you know, the complete (REDACTED) opposite side of the planet! I know Dr. Nick makes some point about creatures traveling a long distance to mate, but that’s to their original spawning grounds. So shouldn’t Godzilla stay in the French Polynesia area? Or, maybe a major city that makes more sense like Tokyo or, if you really want to have the US invasion thing, Los Angeles or San Francisco?
Nope, we get New York because (REDACTED) you.
Personal aside: I finished this movie about two hours before I watched “Avengers: Endgame.” And man, I think watching “Godzilla” made “Avengers” way better than it already was.
Froemming: “Endgame” was ruined for me by someone posting spoilers in a comment section that had nothing to do with the movie. So…
So what is New York to do as this giant lizard (that is also an amphibian? This movie plays fast-and-loose with science)? Well, we have Mayor Bernie Sanders — er, wait, Mayor Ebert — the most elaborate FU to a movie critic, but if you are going to do that, make sure your movie doesn’t suck 100 percent in everything before. He butts heads with the military who is calling the shots, so not only does this movie not understand science, it has no idea how the military works. So great, it is stupid in two main plot points of the film.
Brown: Don’t forget about Mayor Ebert’s assistant, Gene. Look, Roland, poorly satirizing two popular film critics won’t win you points with the public. Because your movies suck.
A small moment that infuriated me that you’d totally agree with, Froemming. When Godzilla emerges and starts his initial “attack” on New York, we see Kent Brockman lamenting about a slow news day and not realizing that Godzilla is literally behind him. Besides the obviousness of not feeling the ground shake beneath Brockman’s feet, shouldn’t the scanners in the newsroom be going NUTS over this moment? Like, newsrooms were thriving in the late ‘90s. Surely there would be an abundance of police scanners ready to inform the reporters.
Froemming: Could they not feel the earth move under their feet? I mean, a giant beast (was there a consistent size to Godzilla in this?) rampaging through downtown Manhattan would be shaking buildings crazy. Also, remember when people were outraged by “Man of Steel” for the destruction of Metropolis, but this movie gets a pass with jet fighters shooting missiles into random buildings? Pre-9/11 movies sure got away with a lot of (REDACTED).
So, Dr. Nick and the government are now in the Big Apple and, as luck would have it, TV cameras pan on him for a good long while despite the fact nobody but his ex from college would know who the hell he was.
Just as Audrey was lamenting about him just at that moment. WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
(REDACTED) you , movie.
Brown: Also, this movie tries having a shady group of Frenchmen for reasons. Yeah, they later reveal these are French Secret Service members that are trying to help stop Godzilla so they can cover up this atrocity from French Polynesia but this movie does this “twist” so haphazardly. All the French do before helping at the end is lament at how crappy American coffee is.
Froemming: It was as confusing as accidentally arriving at West Springfield Elementary!
Brown: It’s more confusing than Groundskeeper Willie teaching French!
The idea of Godzilla is so simple: Just let a monster rampage through a city. Instead, they toss in all this random garbage that makes such a simple movie so insanely cluttered that we need to call “Hoarders.”
Also, let’s make things more complicated and have Godzilla be pregnant and asexual.
Yeah… Dr. Nick takes a sample of Godzilla’s blood and discovers via drug store pregnancy test that our monster has a baby (err, babies) on board.
Froemming: That joke…
OK, so by the logic of this film, we can have any animal (even one that was created by radiation) pee on a cheap pregnancy test and we call tell if they are carrying?
Also, to lighten the mood, when Dr. Nick is buying these, that also happens to be when Audrey sees him and realizes she can manipulate this man’s emotions from their past relationship so she can make a break in her career.
And he is just all “Oh hey, nice to see you. Let’s chat about the old days” WHEN THERE IS A GIANT MONSTER RAMPAGING THROUGH NEW YORK CITY.
Also, he says he is mad about what she did, but acts like he just met her for the first time. The acting in this movie, even by a veteran like Broderick, who I must point out again killed two people in Ireland, is just awful.
Brown: Yeah, Audrey goes and steals a top secret video about the genesis of Godzilla. You know it’s top secret because it’s labeled as such on the VHS tape. Maybe don’t spell it out…?
Anyways, it’s video of Panama and of the Japanese man saying “Gojira.” And because this stupid subplot won’t go away, Audrey is insensed because Kent Brockman stole her story.
You know what I don’t like? My monster movie getting sidetracked by B-movie romantic comedy beats.
You know what I like? My monster movie having monsters fight and throw hilarious dropkicks.
Froemming: For a movie named “Godzilla” we get very little of said Godzilla.
So Dr. Nick realizes that Godzilla probably has laid some eggs, which could hatch unleashing more asexual monsters upon New York. But because Audrey plays his tape of the old man fearing the match — even though Godzilla does not breath fire in this movie at all — letting the world know where it came from and to rightfully despise the French for this.
So Dr. Nick is removed from the case. And I wished this movie had ended here, but NOOOOO this has to be a (REDACTED) two hour mess of a flick.
A mess of a flick that is long and rambling and leads to nowhere much like Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” A terrible song that gets an even worse update for this movie’s soundtrack.
I hate everything about this movie. Everything. Everything.
Brown: You know what, let’s get your “Come With Me” rant out of the way.
I’ll add gasoline to this fiery rage: This song is a guilty pleasure for me.
Froemming: This song is as stupid as “Miracles” by ICP. Let’s just keep playing the “Kashmir” riff as Puff Daddy just grunts and kinda raps over it (he is probably one of the worst rappers of all time). I am guessing, when I said aloud in 1997 nothing could make “Kashmir” worse than it already was, the universe said “hold my beer” and decided to drop this turd into the cosmic punchbowl.
Brown: I don’t get how the special effects in the “Come With Me” music video are somehow better than the CGI in the movie. Godzilla looks terrible in this movie and this comes from a franchise that was a dude in a rubber suit for like three decades. Also, this is a little hard to explain but it’s like there’s no weight to Godzilla. Like, they do have him hitting his tail against buildings but it feels more fake than it is. Buildings are getting hit but they’re not buckling and becoming rubble around a giant (REDACTED) monster. It makes a fake CGI monster feel more fake, if that makes sense.
If it doesn’t, oh well. This entire movie doesn’t make sense.
For the sake of moving this along, the military thinks it has finally killed the King of Monsters with a couple torpedoes. Dr. Nick was booted from the military base because they think he leaked to the press like anyone serving in the Trump administration. But, the French believe Nick’s idea of a nest being in NYC, so he commits treason and joins the French government?
My head hurts.
Froemming: Maybe it was…
So Dr. Nick sneaks into the underground of NY with the French, an untrustworthy people who shook American to its core when it refused to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom, which is why we eat Freedom Fries these days.
The French fool the military checkpoint with their Elvis impersonations, which (REDACTED) I hate this movie so much.
So now we are underground and heading the Madison Square Garden, because when you are hunting monsters, you gotta follow the fish. Also, Audrey and Victor are down there too because they are following Dr. Nick, who ratted out America to the French.
Brown: Rummaging through the subway system, Dr. Nick, the French, Hank Azaria and Audrey reach Madison Square Garden, which has become the Godzilla nest.
Just to avoid the subtext here, it’s time to abort Godzilla’s babies. Only, when they grasp the fact there’s over 200 eggs, they all start hatching because this movie wanted to be “Jurassic Park” so hard we needed a form of raptors to scare everyone.
Froemming: They are not our friend, believe me. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good Godzillas.
Brown: I’m sure there’s some very fine people among the Godzillas.
Trying in vain to escape and with several Frenchmen killed in action, our heroes reach the broadcast booth in MSG to alert the military that they found the nest.
Now, they got six minutes before the military goes all Bombs Over Baghdad on the World’s Most Famous Arena in hopes of killing any future Godzillas.
Personal aside: I chuckled when all the Godzilla babies were hatching. It looked like when the Gobbledy Gooker debuted in the WWF.
Froemming: How does one escape an arena full of Godzillas (we see more of them than the actual (REDACTED) Godzilla)? Why, you crash lighting fixtures on them as you run really fast to the door.
Also, was it me or does Matthew Broderick run really weird? He looks like Barry Goldberg running.
So they escape as the military bombs the hell out of the lil’ Godzillas. But, we find out, the big Godzilla is still alive and now he is pissed. At Dr. Nick. So angry, that this beast chases Dr. Nick and the gang through New York while they are in a taxi. How…how is a taxi outrunning a giant monster whose steps should cover at least a whole block?
Brown: The taxi is outrunning it because this movie wanted to take the T-Rex scene from “Jurassic Park.” People, watch “Jurassic Park.” It’s like four years older, looks 100 times better and is a thousand times a better movie.
So when the T-Rex is chasing them, we see Hank Azaria recording this whole chase. How? His camera got broken at MSG? Also, why do they wait until now to have Godzilla breathe fire? Why not have Godzilla shoot gamma rays like he does in the old movies?
Froemming: They need to get Godzilla in the open, so they lure him to the Brooklyn Bridge, where Bobby fell to his death in “Saturday Night Fever.” They get the monster there, all right, but Godzilla gets them into his mouth, which should have crushed the thing in one bite. But nope, the taxi gets chewed on, but no damage to anyone inside of it. And they literally drive out of Godzilla’s mouth in the thousandth WTF eyeroll moment for me with this movie.
With Godzilla snared on the cables, the military blasts the hell out of the beast. A beast created by man’s greed. And the day is saved. I guess. And we get sequel bait as the camera zooms into MSG and there is a giant Godzilla egg, where another monster pops out of it.
This movie didn’t deserve a sequel and Roland Emmerich should never have been allowed to make another (REDACTED) movie again after this.
Let’s take this beat up taxi to recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: Nope. I want to Godzilla dropkick this movie. Here’s that footage one more time because it makes me happy.
Froemming: No. This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.
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